Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Atlantic Bridge – 7 –

vascodegama (Prologue) (Atlantic Bridge 6)

Ambialet, Southern France, that same evening
The setting sun cast long shadows across the old chapel in the Monastery high on the rock above the town. Hints of red , like bloodstains, seemed to spatter the walls as the fading light found its way through the stained glass. Around an ancient oak table positioned where the altar used to be, sat eleven figures, ten men and one woman. They spoke  in hushed tones.
“But Henri, “said a small, nervous, ferret-like man in jeans and a faded t-shirt, “how can we be sure Malachi has compromised us?”
“How can we be sure he hasn’t?” countered Henri, his voice rising. Henri DuPont was the unelected leader of Lumiere de Liberte, insofar as he talked more than the others. But there were no complaints. Henri’s heart was in the right place, even if it was in mortal danger from too much, Vin, Fromage et Saucisse . “I would vouch for Malachi with my life,” continued Henri, passionately, “but you know as well as I do, Reynard, Les Fundamentalistes have no such regard for L’Honneur and I very much fear Malachi may have inadvertently disclosed our location. We are dealing with a doctrine that cut off the hands of thieves and stoned adulterous wives to death, before they lost all reason.
“Merde.” Reynard slumped back in his seat, defeat written all over his face.
“then we are compromised, and must leave Ambialet.” He said, resignedly.
“No!” shouted Henri, thumping the table for emphasis, “Now we are forewarned, and we shall avenge Malachi. Allez, tonight, we plan!”

Operational Headquarters, British Army Intelligence, Cheltenham

The black Army staff car pulled into a reserved parking bay, its two passengers hurried across the gravel to the modern glass and steel building that housed the Army’s innermost secrets. As they reached the door, the car was already speeding off into the night, kicking up stones as it accelerated away. Lieutenant Commander Ben Tobias swiped his card key through the aluminium box next to the door, and both he and Mark Simmons were permitted access.
Following a further security check by the night watch in the lobby, they were on their way to meet with General Lacey. After their conference call earlier in the evening, the three men felt it was imperative that they meet as soon as possible to discuss how best to deal with the intelligence they had received.
They knocked on the oak panelled doors that marked the entrance to Sir George’s office. General Sir George Lacey’s office was a source of amusement to many of the younger army intelligence staff. He had insisted on the whole thing being a sort of Victorian throwback, complete with Enormous mahogany desk, dark wood panelling and ornate ceiling mouldings and cornices. Consequently, when the General bellowed “Come!”  Tobias and Simmons felt like they were stepping into another world.
“Gentlemen, apologies for the hour, but we need to thrash this out. As you know, we have received reports from Paris that Al-Qaeda successfully broke one of L de L’s top operatives. The veracity of the report is not, I repeat, not, in doubt. It’s come down the wires from Phoenix.”
Phoenix was Britain’s deep cover officer in France. He’d been planted over six years ago, and his access had grown over time. He’d worked to acquire a position of trust within the Al-Qaeda network that effectively acted as a secret police for the Fundamentalist Occupation Force. His intelligence reports were invaluable to the British Government, but needless to say, the risk was enormous. If discovered and caught, Phoenix could expect to be publicly executed. He was under no illusion that his capture and death would be a massive publicity coup for the Fundamentalists. Therefore, his every move was taken only after great deliberation and utmost care.
“Do we know who it was they captured?” asked Ben Tobias.
Sir George studied a file on his desk. “His name was Malachi, a French Algerian, I believe. By all accounts solid, a good man, committed to the cause.”
“Then how can we…” began Ben
“Because when they found him he was minus his hands and feet!!” interrupted Sir George. He took a moment to compose himself.
“We have to stop these murderous bastards..” he muttered, more to himself than anything.
The room was quiet for a few moments as the three men imagined the last, terrifying moments of the resistance man’s life.
It was Simmons who spoke first. “So, you think it’s reasonable to assume he disclosed the location of L de L’s base in the south?”
“Yes, “said Sir George quietly, “I think it’s reasonable to assume that.”
“I would recommend a covert strike team to assist the Resistance, possible a drop a few miles from target. They could use two inflatables to take a ten man team along the River Tarn to Ambialet undetected,” said Ben. “Do we know if L de L in Ambialet are aware of Malachi’s capture?” he added.
“We don’t know for sure but, if I know that Henri, he will know. Nothing gets past him, and I’ll bet my army pension he’s drawn the same conclusions we have, however painful. He will be preparing for an unfriendly visit.”
“I don’t see how we can tell them we’re sending help without tipping our hand to the Alkies” said Simmons. “Alkies” had become the colloquial term for Al Qaeda operatives amongst the forces. The old racial epithet “Towelheads” had become frowned upon, chiefly because a great many allies of the West who had a vested interest in seeing the demise of Islamic Fundamentalism and the reinstatement of a peaceful Muslim religion could be described similarly.
“I agree,” said the General, “therefore they cannot know. We’re more help to them if we arrive to spoil the party, and certainly no help at all if we warn the Alkies that they’re expected. Ben, let’s go with the ten man strike force, I think we should low-drop them onto the Plateau above the Gorge du Tarn, its called Le Causse, if memory serves. The men can abseil into the Gorge and make their way downriver to Ambialet from there.”
“Agreed,” said Ben, It’s far enough away from Fundamentalist controlled territories for a safe drop, but I’d like some air cover for when they pass beneath the Viaduct at Millau, they’ll have that main route covered as a matter of course, and it only takes one curious Alkie to look over the edge.. ”Ben left his fear unspoken.
“I’ll get hold of Alberstein, perhaps we can stick a Stealth in the air for an hour from Fairford, to coincide with the pass, fair enough?”
“Fair enough, General”
“Okay. Simmons, I’ll leave you to put the team together. Any questions?”
“Just one sir, well, it’s more of a request really.”
“Out with it.”
“I’d like to lead the strike team sir” said Ben Tobias.

© Kev Moore 2008 all rights reserved

(Atlantic Bridge 8)

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January 25, 2009 - Posted by | books, Cafe Literati, Entertainment, Kev Moore's Novel Atlantic Bridge, literature, politics, random, religion, writing | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] (Atlantic Bridge 7) […]

    Pingback by Atlantic Bridge - 6 - « Café Crem | January 25, 2009


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